Three Tips For Protecting Yourself From Unwarranted Cellphone Searches


The cellphone is the center of many people's lives, containing vast amounts of data about them and their activities. So, it's no surprise that law enforcement officers will access people's cellphones—and other electronic devices—to find evidence of criminal activity. To protect yourself, here are three things you can do to stop cops from looking at your cellphone data when they don't have a warrant to do so.

Assert Your Rights

There's been a lot of arguments about whether cellphones are covered by the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. After some back and forth, the Supreme Court finally decided law enforcement agencies must either have warrants or the owners' permission to access their electronic devices.

The fact this is now the law of the land won't stop some cops from taking liberties during arrests with the hope you don't know what your rights are in this area and, thus, won't object. A good way to fight back, then, is to demonstrate to the officers that you are well aware of what the law requires when it comes to cellphone searches.

Simply reminding the cops that they need a warrant to access your phone can do the trick. The cop may try to psychologically manipulate you by stating the search wouldn't be a big deal if you have nothing to hide. Don't fall for it. State loudly and clearly you don't consent to a cellphone search. This way, if they continue with the search anyway, they can't claim later you actually gave them permission.

Password-Protect Your Phone and Files

Another way to keep police and other unauthorized persons from looking at the information on your phone is to require a password to access it. Most modern cellphones provide the option to require users to enter a passcode to get past the lock screen. So, even if the cops ignore your right to privacy, they won't be able to get into your phone without your password, and they can't compel you to give it to them.

However, you should go a step further and secure the individual programs on your phone with a passcode. For example, you can require people to enter a different passcode to look at the pictures on your phone or peruse your call history. If the cops manage to get past your lock screen—or the screen was unlocked when they took it from you—the second passcode requirement would stop them from getting to your data.

Cellphones don't currently have this particular feature built in, so you'll have to download a third-party program such as Bitdefender to obtain this added protection.

Activate Remote Control and Encryption

Unfortunately, motivated cops won't let password protection stop them. They'll simply take the phone to the station and have one of their tech people hack into the device. There are a couple of ways you can handle this situation.

One option is to encrypt the phone. This tool makes the data on your phone unreadable without the decryption key. If law enforcement personnel were able to get past your lock screen, they still wouldn't be able to view the information, and brute-force decrypting it could take a long time, probably more time than they can legally hold your property.

The second option is to enable remote access to the phone so you can perform a number of security functions, such as locking the device and even wiping the information stored on it. Be aware, though, there may be legal ramification to destroying the data on your phone, so talk to an attorney about it first to avoid getting in even more trouble.

For more information about preventing cops from accessing your cellphone data or help with a criminal case, contact a lawyer at a law firm like Funderburk  and Lane.


16 August 2018

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